2015: A Year In Metal - The Critics' Poll Albums 15-6

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Merlin Alderslade, Jason Arnopp, Oliver Badin, Joe Daly, Malcolm Dome, Eleanor Goodman, Stephen Hill, Dom Lawson, Dave Ling, Edwin McFee, Morat, Luke Morton, Tom O’Boyle, Dayal Patterson, Adam Rees, Natasha Scharf, Jonathan Selzer, Holly Wright

15. Mgła

EXERCISES IN FUTILITY

NORTHERN HERITAGE

Despite obvious Norse inspirations, Poland’s Mgła’s visceral yet atmosphere-steeped and heartfelt take on black metal has carved a distinct identity for the band over recent years, pushing them to the forefront of the contemporary scene. Exercises In Futility was a natural extension to the band’s discography, and cemented their reputation via its embittered yet affirming compositions.

14. Deafheaven

NEW BERMUDA

ANTI-

Cries of ‘hipster’ and ‘false metal’ could be heard from the narrow-minded at the back, but Deafheaven’s fusion of black metal and shoegaze to emulate the sound of God’s voice left us breathless and numb. A flowing continuation from 2013’s Sunbather album, this was a much rawer, harder, edgier effort, which split synapses to leave us in a quivering mess of tinnitus and tears.

13. Napalm Death

APEX PREDATOR – EASY MEAT

CENTURY MEDIA

Still in tireless pursuit of new ways to batter us into oblivion, Napalm Death had never sounded as furious and wild as they did on their 15th studio album. Sonically warped and almost mischievous in its speaker-wrecking hostility, Apex Predator… took grindcore to a frightening new level of creativity and intensity. From its harrowing, Swans-like intro onwards, this was a fearless and yet wholly epic assault on the senses.

12. Parkway Drive

IRE

EPITAPH

Gleefully jumping into the musical unknown for the first time, Parkway Drive evolved their crushing metalcore template into a hook-filled, thunderous, heavy metal monster. Ire not only packs more left-field turns than anything else the Aussies have put their name to, it’s also the finest album of their career. We reckon we’ll be snapping our necks to the breakdown in Bottom Feeder for years and years to come.

11. Slayer

REPENTLESS

NUCLEAR BLAST

Slayer’s first album without Jeff Hanneman uncorked a maelstrom of neck-snapping riffs, chaotic tempos and darkened nihilistic ferocity – in short, everything we bloody love about Slayer. Intensified by gale-force torrents of hardcore and crunchy blasts of groove metal, Repentless brilliantly showcased Slayer’s peerless ability for summoning their indestructible trademark sound while still blowing everybody’s minds. You know how it goes: SLAAAAYAAAAARGHHH!!!

10. Tesseract

POLARIS

KSCOPE

With prodigious frontman Dan Tompkins firmly back in the fold after a whirlwind few years of lineup turmoil, Tesseract unleashed the album they’d been promising to make since emerging as favourites to transcend the djent revolution. Polaris presented an ever-evolving tapestry of rhythmic complexity and heartstopping melodies, while the likes of Survival and Hexes also showed their ability to write towering anthems with immediate impact.

9. Lamb Of God

VII: STURM UND DRANG

NUCLEAR BLAST

During what was undoubtedly an abysmal period for Randy Blythe following accusations of manslaughter that landed him in prison, the future of Lamb Of God looked bleak to say the least. But when the frontman was acquitted and made a dignified comeback, Lamb Of God emerged with one of their darkest and most vitriolic albums to date, condensing two years of turmoil into a colossal and defiant statement of intent and reminding everyone why they remain one of our greatest bands.

8. Killing Joke

PYLON

SPINEFARM

Since the original lineup reformed in 2008, Killing Joke’s output has been undeniably potent, with Pylon being arguably the strongest issued since then. Upbeat yet angry, its hypnotic songs flowed easily into one another without sacrificing their individuality or their incendiary, planet-smashing sense of insurrection. Not so much a protest album, Pylon lashed its groove to the endlessly churning wheels of oppression, and in the process reached a state of apocalyptic enlightenment.

7. Marilyn Manson

THE PALE EMPEROR

COOKING VINYL

It seems anything Manson does these days that’s not totally shit is hastily heralded as some kind of comeback, but in the case of The Pale Emperor, the claim was legit. Teaming up with composer Tyler Bates, Manson created a bluesy, noir soundtrack to the greatest film never made. With the throaty Deep Six and swaggering The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles, not to mention his turn as criminal Ron Tully in Sons Of Anarchy, the God Of Fuck’s reinvention was a resounding success.

6. Tribulation

THE CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT

CENTURY MEDIA

Steeped in a captivating atmosphere of gothic tragedy and the uncovering of hallowed new realms, Swedish vampires Tribulation laid a strong claim for album of the year in April. Moving even further from their old-school death metal roots, these new songs perfectly balanced the enticingly esoteric dangers of extreme metal with effortlessly infectious songwriting, with particular plaudits going to outstanding guitarists Jonathan Hultén and Adam Zaars.

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